The FBI is investigating “possible charges of child exploitation” involving the co-director of music at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, the diocese said Friday, and he has been removed from his position.
Michael Wustrow, 55, directed several youth choirs at St. Agnes, the seat of the diocese, and also has been director of the adult choir there in his role.
“The Diocese learned of the investigation this week after the FBI executed a search warrant and seized Mr. Wustrow’s work computer,” read a statement released by the diocese Friday. “Mr. Wustrow was immediately relieved of all Diocesan and parish duties, and both the Diocese and St. Agnes Parish have been cooperating fully with law enforcement officials.”
The statement added: “We understand that this is upsetting news, and we will seek to keep you apprised of further developments as soon as we are able to communicate them to you.”
Wustrow came to St. Agnes in 1993, according to the parish website. For years he has been a fixture in the world of sacred music, serving on the board of a major national choral organization and playing the organ at prestigious locations such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.
He could not be reached for comment.
The FBI also did not respond to a request for comment.
Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the diocese, said the parents of all children in St. Agnes’ choirs have been directly notified of Wustrow’s removal, as well as the parents of students at the St. Agnes Cathedral School.
The diocese said anyone with information should contact the Diocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Young People at 516-678-5800, ext. 573, or 516-594-9063.
The diocese also will offer counseling for anyone affected by the possible exploitation, Dolan said.
Wustrow was in the process of leaving Long Island to take a new position as director of music for the Diocese of Orlando, according to that diocese’s communications office. He was to start Nov. 1.
As an organist, Wustrow has performed at many diocesan services held at St. Agnes Cathedral, the seat of the Rockville Centre diocese of 1.5 million Catholics.
St. Agnes Cathedral has eight choirs, including several involving children, according to the parish’s website.
The cathedral’s music program includes a children’s choir for first- and second-graders, a Junior Girls’ Choir for girls in grades three through five, a Senior Girls’ Choir for girls in grades six through eight, and a Choir of Men and Boys, which involves both adults and youths in grades 3 through 12, the website said.
St. Agnes’ website said that part of Wustrow’s responsibilities “include conducting two 70-voice girls choirs, as well as a 50-voice choir for boys and girls in grades 1-2. The Senior Girls Choir, an auditioned group of girls in grades 6-8, has performed in New York City at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Ave. and St. Ignatius Church on Park Ave.”
Wustrow graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in music education, and from Yale University School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music, where he earned a master’s degree in organ performance, according to the website.
He has presented workshops on the subject of children’s choirs around the country, including for the American Guild of Organists and the Choristers Guild, the website said.
He recently finished a six-year term serving on the Choristers Guild National Board of Directors, according to the website.